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Complex Path Led Dr. Benjamin Carlyle into Deep DebtLock Icon

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Complex Path Led Dr. Benjamin Carlyle into Deep Debt 129572
<p>Dr. Benjamin Carlyle and his wife, Lindsay, bought a 5,000, 4,500-SF home in Searcy in June 2015. Three years later, the couple bought a 6,800-SF second home for 0,000.</p> ()

A Searcy doctor with millions of dollars of debt and a troubled history with state regulators now confronts his latest nightmare: A lender has accused Dr. Benjamin Carlyle of submitting false financial statements to obtain loans.

Carlyle listed $4.4 million in debt and $1.6 million in assets in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy liquidation, but he’s in no position to pay down his debts. On Jan. 1, he was dropped as an internal medicine hospitalist at Unity Health-White County Medical Center after failing a recent board certification exam. He would need to get into a residency program in order to get another shot at the exam, but that prospect is complicated by his dealings with the Arkansas State Medical Board in 2018.

The board filed an emergency order of suspension against Carlyle in October 2018 for failing to see patients; the doctor said in a bankruptcy proceeding that he had fallen asleep in the doctors lounge when he should have been seeing patients. The board lifted his suspension in December 2018 and he entered into a consent order under which he agreed to be monitored by the Arkansas Medical Foundation. At that time he returned to work at Unity Health.

Arkansas Business obtained a recording of the Dec. 10 bankruptcy proceeding in which Carlyle and his wife, Lindsay, were questioned about finances. He said that even though there are no restrictions still on his license, the consent order is “going to be a hurdle for me to overcome in trying to secure future employment” and would hamper him in obtaining a residency.

Without a residency or board certification, Carlyle said, he has few options to work as a doctor. “We’re very concerned and distraught about the situation,” he said in the proceedings.

Carlyle said he potentially could work in a clinic or private practice, but he was canceled by six insurance providers after the suspension order. He was able to get some of the carriers back, but he remains out of the Arkansas Blue Cross & Blue Shield network, he said.

“So to be able to set up a clinic and practice, with not having the biggest payer in Arkansas, is just a hurdle I don’t see me overcoming,” Carlyle said.

Reached by phone, Dr. Carlyle hung up on an Arkansas Business reporter. His bankruptcy attorney, Lyndsey Dilks of Little Rock, was unavailable for comment.

Meanwhile, Bankers Healthcare Group LLC of Florida, an affiliate of Pinnacle Bank of Nashville, Tennessee, has sued Carlyle in bankruptcy court and asked Judge Phyllis M. Jones not to discharge Carlyle’s debt of nearly $435,000. Bankers Healthcare specializes in lending to medical professionals. If the suit succeeds, Carlyle would be left with his debt after the bankruptcy process.

Becoming Dr. Carlyle

Carlyle was valedictorian of the class of 2000 at Newport High School. While a student, he worked with Dr. Roland Reynolds at his local family practice clinic and on his rounds at the hospital in Newport.

“Dr. Reynolds is responsible for etching into stone my desire to practice medicine with the ultimate focus of helping people,” Carlyle wrote in his CV on file with the Medical Board. “My experiences with Dr. Reynolds, learning what it actually is to be a healthcare provider, will forever be an influential force … .”

At the University of Arkansas, he pursued a double major in biophysics and microbiology, then entered the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in 2004, getting a degree in 2008.

Carlyle did his residency at UAMS in internal medicine and received recommendations in 2011 to receive his medical license.

“Dr. Carlyle has done well during his medical residency and has established that he is highly competent in the discipline of internal medicine,” Dr. James Marsh, chairman of UAMS’ Department of Internal Medicine, wrote to the Medical Board’s licensing coordinator in 2011. “He is a kind and caring physician with an excellent grasp of the science fundamental to medicine, as well as the art and skill of medicine,” Marsh wrote. “On a personal level, he is a compassionate and thoughtful individual who is dedicated to the care of his patients.”

Carlyle received his medical license in 2011 and went to work at Saline Memorial Hospital in Benton as an internal medicine hospitalist.

In June 2015, he started working at Unity Health-White County Medical Center as an internal medicine hospitalist, and his financial health seemed strong: He and his wife bought a $525,000, 4,500-SF home in Searcy in June 2015. At the 202-bed hospital, he said he earned about $800,000 in 2016. But then problems started to surface.

In 2017, Carlyle’s income fell to about $600,000. He blamed himself for the cut in pay, and said during the bankruptcy proceeding that he “failed to submit the charges for the patient records in time for the hospital to bill for them.” That cost him about $200,000, he said.

In June 2018, without selling their first house in Searcy, the couple bought a bigger one — 6,800 SF with five bedrooms and four and a half bathrooms — for $850,000. Public records indicate they still own both houses and owe a combined $1.28 million.

But Lindsay Carlyle traces the couple’s financial problems to July 2018, when Dr. Carlyle failed to see patients one day.

“A patient complained to management that they did not see me,” he said. “So the hospital investigated whether I made rounds that day” and set a hearing.

“I just was honest and forthright,” Benjamin Carlyle said. “I told them that I fell asleep in the doctor’s lounge and had full intentions of seeing those patients, but failed to.”

Lindsay Carlyle said during the bankruptcy proceeding that the patients were seen by her husband’s advanced practice nurse and “weren’t neglected in any way.” Still, on Sept. 12, 2018, Unity Health suspended Carlyle’s privileges without pay and placed him on probation for a year.

Kevin O’Dwyer, the attorney for the ASMB, said in an email to Arkansas Business last week that the hospital reported the suspension to the board, although his file doesn’t give a reason for his failure to see the patients.

The Medical Board issued an emergency suspension of Carlyle’s license in October 2018. (He hired Little Rock attorney Rick Angel to represent him before the board, and his bankruptcy filing lists a $55,000 debt to Angel.)

On Nov. 2, 2018, Unity Health’s chief of staff, Bradley Hughes, wrote a letter urging the Medical Board to lift the suspension. “Dr. Carlyle is a well-respected colleague and we welcome his return as a full and active member of our medical staff,” Hughes wrote.

Carlyle also wrote the board on that day and said he had “actively engaged in addressing issues related to my health and well being, as well as being actively committed to personal and professional development in aid of my well being.”

He agreed to be monitored by the Arkansas Medical Foundation, and on Dec. 6, 2018, the board lifted Carlyle’s suspension, allowing him to return to work at Unity Health.

Complex Path Led Dr. Benjamin Carlyle into Deep Debt 129572
<p>The Unity Health-White County Medical Center, where Dr. Benjamin Carlyle (inset) worked in Searcy.</p> ()

Lender Allegations

While Carlyle was dealing with the Medical Board, his family finances were getting worse.

Lindsay Carlyle said homes like their first one, in the $400,000-$500,000 price range, “are all sitting on the market” in Searcy. Two mortgages made it harder to service other debts.

In March 2017, Carlyle, through his namesake professional limited liability company, borrowed $253,000 from Bankers Healthcare Group, saying the money would be used for business development, according to the loan summary filed as an exhibit in Bankers Healthcare’s suit. Carlyle, who had no practice other than his hospital job, submitted a financial statement listing $828,000 in assets and $1.5 million in debts. He personally guaranteed the loan.

A year later, Carlyle’s PLLC borrowed another $203,000 from Bankers. He also personally guaranteed that money. In his March 2018 financial statement, Carlyle listed assets of $1.4 million and debt of $1.6 million.

In the lawsuit filed last month, Bankers Healthcare Group said Carlyle failed to disclose three separate, unsecured loans totaling $742,000. The bank said both financial statements were “materially false and misleading.” As of Wednesday, Carlyle hadn’t filed an answer to the complaint.

Meanwhile, Carlyle also borrowed $150,000 from BancorpSouth Bank of Tupelo, Mississippi, in April 2018. That loan was secured by a rent house Carlyle owns in Maumelle.

During the December bankruptcy proceeding, the bank’s attorney, Lance Miller of the Mitchell Williams Selig Gates & Woodyard law firm, asked Carlyle what he did with the money.

“I don’t know,” Carlyle said.

“It seems like a lot of money not to recall where it went,” Miller said. “Generally you take a trip. You gamble it away.”

Carlyle said the money was used to “operate our financial situation. … There was no gambling away or anything like that.”

Largest Creditors in Bankruptcy of Benjamin and Lindsay Carlyle

Secured Creditors

Simmons Bank, Pine Bluff   
Purpose: Mortgage     
Amount of Claim: $793,417

SunTrust Bank, Richmond, Virginia    
Purpose: Business debt*    
Amount of Claim: $517,323

BancorpSouth Bank of Tupelo, Mississippi    
Purpose: Business debt/second mortgage    
Amount of Claim: $153,788

Chase Mortgage, Columbus, Ohio    
Purpose: Business debt/first mortgage    
Amount of Claim: $86,511

Total of All Secured Creditors        $1,661,421


Unsecured Creditors

Total Student Loans        
Amount of Claim: $419,168

Patricia Sue and Steve M. Shock, Vilonia  
Purpose: Unsecured loan    
Amount of Claim: $380,000

Bankers Health Group, Florida    
Purpose: Business debt    
Amount of Claim: $233,438

Ginger Wagner Carlyle, Newport    
Purpose: Unsecured loan    
Amount of Claim: $215,000

State and Federal Taxes       
Amount of Claim: $210,526

Total of All Unsecured Claims        $2,776,580

*For the Carlyles’ first house in Searcy, which is listed as a rent house
Source: The Carlyles’ bankruptcy filing in U.S. Bankruptcy Court

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